Marilag Lubag's Blog

Balancing Act

February 23, 2016
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Finding a balance is just a myth. There are seasons when we get so busy that everything in our plate is just falling apart. There are also times when we don’t have a lot of things to do. This situation is what I would call balance—a time to get busy and a time to play. As professional artists, it means that we’re constantly figuring out how to maximize our time given our situation. Still, even when I’m busy, I’m able to make time for the things that I find important. While it’s not easy, I do my best to make it work.

When people say that they’re busy and they don’t have time to do the things they want, the truth is it’s just not a priority. Whether it’s trying to write a novel or paint or sculpt, if we say that we want to do them but we don’t have the time, it means that it’s not our priority. We’re using time as an excuse—the oldest excuse in the book.

You have to figure out the things that are important to you and the things that aren’t. Is trying to learn an instrument just a wish? or are you serious to learn? Do you really want to become a painter or are you so dissatisfied with your job that you dream of doing something else? If you really want to do something, you have to find and make time for it. Being busy is just an excuse. What that really means is that I have so many things to do and this current activity that I seem to want to do is just a waste of time. So, are you really busy?


Broomstick Lace

February 22, 2016
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Broomstick lace is one of the easiest yet most versatile crochet technique you will ever learn. Using a gigantic knitting needle (a ruler would also be a good substitute) and a crochet hook, you could create endless things such as a top, a cell phone case, an eyeglass case, and jewelry. It requires a basic knowledge of crochet. After that, the possibilities are endless.

Right now, I’m trying to create a beanie using this technique. I started out at an increase but I figured that it’s better to create it through decrease—I only have one needle available as I’m using the other needle for a different broomstick lace project—my first attempt to ever make a top.

It’s a lot less intimidating than it looks once you got a good grasp of it. It’s pretty simple and yet the design itself is beautiful. If you find yourself scared to use this technique, try a simple project such as a necklace or a bracelet. You might find it as enjoyable as I do.

Beautiful doesn’t always mean it’s complicated. Broomstick lace is a simple technique but it creates a very beautiful design. It’s not as ornate as Bruges lace but it’s simple and strong enough that you can make bags using this technique. Try it and see if you like it.


Cursed Tasks

February 19, 2016
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There were things that is necessary for us to do even if we hate doing them if we really want to be successful in our crafts. One of those things is organizing.

Just because you love everything about the craft doesn’t mean that you’re going to like everything about it. If you want to be a professional, there are some aspects of your craft that you wouldn’t like. Whether it’s organizing or doing interviews, there would be things that you don’t like to do but are necessary in order to get things the way they are.

Sometimes, people think that if they abandon their current jobs and try to make a living off something they really like that it’s going to be smooth sailing. That is not the case. People still have to promote their products, organize their things, balance their budgets, etc. Not everybody would love to do those things. Nevertheless, they’re necessary for people that are turning pro.

There are things that are necessary evil in people’s lives. You can’t help it but they’re necessary if people would like to make money through art—at least in the beginning. You have to conquer your fear if you wish to become successful in your craft. For example, if you hate talking to other people, you have to learn how to talk to other people politely as a way to advertise.

In my case, it’s trying to organize my things. A few weeks ago, I was writing the pattern for a beanie I made. I couldn’t remember the yarn and the color I used. Thankfully, the yarn’s website has all the color for the yarn. I was able to recreate the pattern. That afternoon, I spent my time cataloging my yarn collection.

There are things that we need to do that we don’t necessarily like if we were to become professional. Even after we receive the level of success, there would be days when we would rather have a root canal than do a certain task. While we like one aspect of our work, we won’t necessarily like everything we’re doing on our perspective occupations.


How to Be Good at Something

February 18, 2016
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Talents are not as innate as some people think. Almost any skill can be learned. It takes an immense amount of interest and practice in order to become a master of something. Some people think it’s mysterious to be able to do something but it’s really not. Talent is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration—I’m paraphrasing Edison. The people who are good at certain things just have a lot of practice.

If you want to be good at something, you have to get off your phone. Whether it’s cooking or singing or writing, you won’t know how to do something unless you start doing them. To be good at something, it starts with actually picking up the tool and actually doing something.

It starts with a hobby—the adult version of playing without worrying about the consequences. Whether it’s writing or singing painting or needlework or anything else, people need to get interested in something before they actually start playing. Keep in mind that things are a lot harder to learn as an adult than when we were children—we no longer practice learning new skills.

Eventually, people learn their skills. If you’re a horrible singer, you’ll become good at it if you keep on practicing and try to learn the technique. It takes time but people learn eventually. Then, people become good at what they do and then they could sell them or give them away if they choose. You have to practice over and over in order to be good at whatever it is you want to learn. It does take time but if you practice that particular skill an hour a day, you’ll become good at whatever it is you’re interested in.

To be good at something, you don’t need to be born with talent for that particular skill. Most people could learn through practice. The more you practice, the more you’ll improve. It’s going to take a few years but eventually, you’ll be good at that particular activity that people would believe you’re born with that skill.

 

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Gifts

February 17, 2016
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By nature, I love arts and crafts. It helps me express my creativity especially since I’m not as good as the other members of my family when it comes to painting. However, I’m gifted with all sorts of needlework. We each have our unique gifts and it’s up to each of us to use it and improve it.

We all have different skills and talents. Sometimes, people are born to be good at painting. Others were born to be better at singing. Then, there were those that are great at acting. Nevertheless, no matter where your gifts are, you could get better if you practice.

I believe that our natural gifts lie on where our interests are and on whether we practice them or not. One of the reasons why I’m not good with painting is because I don’t practice it. The same goes for my ability to take pictures. Plenty of people have said that I’m terrible at it. My boss often wonders why I couldn’t take good photos when I’m an artist with a lot of talents. The only answer I have was because I don’t take a lot of pictures. I’m not going to waste my time trying to find the perfect angle for a particular subject when all I want is to show people the places I’ve been at and the people I’m with. It all depends on the editing—if I actually get around it. And besides, I’m not interested in making things picture perfect. I prefer candid shots over anything else.

On the other hand, I’m good at the other things I prefer to learn. For example, I’m good at singing because I’ve practiced countless hours singing even if I was out of tune growing up. I’m good at hula hoop too—I practiced hundreds of hours trying to keep that round object around my waist. The things that I’m good at, I practiced tirelessly. I didn’t get discouraged doing them as I tried to master each skill.

I’m good at a lot of things because I practice. At first, I tend to be terrible. After more tries, I improve. Since I have the tendency to practice nonstop when I like something, I eventually become good at it. It’s not that I’m multitalented as some people have said. As far as I’m concerned, I start with only the desire to do something. With practice, I soon add it to my bag of talents.

If you’re not good at something but have the desire to do it, don’t despair. Just practice. With dedication, you’ll eventually learn and become good at it. Our gifts are tied to our interests. It’s because we practice the things we’re interested in doing more than those that we’re not.


Start Simple

February 16, 2016
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Whenever I try to learn a new crocheting skill, I start with simple projects and practice it repeatedly. That’s how I became good at needlework. This is also a good way to improve your craft. After all, you can’t become a painter if you don’t know how to apply paint on the canvas. In my case, it helps me figure out how the yarn would behave before I can create a more elaborate design.

It’s better to start something simple if you’re just learning. A Mozart piece is a lot harder if you couldn’t even do the scales. Creating a beanie would be a lot harder if you couldn’t even start a chain. Writing a novel is extremely difficult if you don’t even know how tell a story. You need to master the basics before you should try something more complex.

It’s better to start something simple and master all the skills necessary than to create something elaborate without learning the basics. Mastering the basics gives you the skillset to combine them into something more complex. They do take time to develop so please be patient. After all, J.K. Rowling had been writing stories long before she completed Harry Potter. She had written her first story at the age of six about a rabbit. By the time she had written Harry Potter, she had been practicing writing for a long time.

When you try to do more complex items before mastering the basics, you won’t have the skills to match the vision you have in your head. It would be so far from your finished product it’s like trying to paint like Leonardo Da Vinci when your painting skill is that of a ten year old. When people do this, they tend to be discouraged and tell themselves that they couldn’t do what was on their mind. In reality, all they need is to practice. People should give themselves time to practice and allow themselves to be bad at it. The only way to become a sculptor is if you start creating a sculpture. Start by making a ball and then do something more complex from there. There is no shortcut. It takes time to be good at something.

People need to learn how to walk before they could run. The same is true when it comes to being a serious artist. Just because other people made what they do look easy doesn’t mean that it is. Being an artist is hard work. It takes talent, practice, and determination (mostly practice) in order to paint like a Renaissance painter.

 

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Freebies

February 15, 2016
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Last week, Kristen Lamb pointed out how giving away free stuff could actually backfire and hurts us writers. She pointed out that while giving away freebies might give writers exposure, exposure cannot pay rent. She’s saying that giving away everything for free would mean that people would expect that novels don’t cost anything—a.k.a. the Law of Supply and Demand. The more supply there is relative to the demand, the less the price.

Not only do this topic affects writers, it also impacts other artists as well. While there are people who frown upon giving away their products, I believe that giving away freebies is a good way to advertise. It means that you would get your name out there at very little cost to you. However, just because you’re giving away your product for free doesn’t mean you have to give away everything. It cost you time, brain cells, and materials to produce your work. You have to find a balance between giving your products away and getting compensated for your efforts.

For example, I watch K-dramas and anime for free. Crunchyroll, one of the best anime sites out there offers their service for free. They also show K-dramas. And it’s legal. They have a three tier pricing—one for free, one for limited, and one for the best. The free things allow you to watch the videos but they tend to have a lot of commercials and HD is not available. The one for limited price means that you can access all videos commercial free and in HD and all the manga. The one for the best price works a lot like Amazon prime—they also include free shipping for the anime merchandise also available on the site.

Another online free service I know is the Free Belly Dance Classes. The site is totally free but if you check it out, you’ll notice that it’s full of ads. Advertisements are the reason why the website has been up for so long. Then there’s the section of DVD’s—it’s $5.00 for each one. Tiazza also accepts donations from people who wants to help her keep her site running—a.k.a. the tip jar.

Then there are the people from self-help industry. They are the ones advocating that people should be willing to work for free. I’m pretty sure they’re partly to blame with why everybody are handing out their work for free. Oprah Winfrey does associate with a lot of them and they were the ones advocating on doing things for free. Still, there’s always a catch. I notice that everytime a particular self-help expert offers a free talk, they only offer it for free for a limited amount of time. Usually it’s between 24-36 hours. If you miss it and you want to listen, you have to buy it.

Just because people are advocating giving away our work doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t get compensated. There is no such thing as free lunch. We have to value ourselves and our efforts too. We have to find a balance to do both.

Should you give away your work for free? What do you think?


Break Time

February 11, 2016
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Every artist needs a break. It would be a grave mistake if he or she locks himself or herself in a room painting or writing day in and day out without taking any break. I guarantee that it would be a major cause of artistic block. Unless he or she is a major procrastinator, he or she had no reason to lock himself or herself away from civilization without coming into contact with humanity and nature.

An artist needs to give himself or herself some time to let the things in his or her mind process things in order to create something new. Sometimes, he or she needs to doodle and to write crazy things on paper. Then, he or she needs to give it time to settle down so that the brain could process things and to create something worthwhile.

An example would be writing this blog. The night I wrote this, I decided to write as much as I could in order to have a good idea for the blog posts during the week. I had plenty of idea for Monday’s post but I was lacking topics for Tuesday until Friday. Nevertheless, I wrote a few paragraphs for each of the remaining days even if I didn’t have anything to say then I went to sleep. The next day, my mind was coming up with a ton of ideas for the blog posts. I was able to come up with topics for the rest of the week including this post.

If you find yourself not wanting to work but you’ve been working nonstop for days, maybe it’s time for a break. Go to Starbucks. Do your chores. Go to the park. For a day or two, do something else other than writing. You can even watch a movie. Then, come back and work. You’ll notice that you have more ideas.

Every artist needs a break. It’s a way to recharge and to generate more ideas.


Making a Blanket

February 10, 2016
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It took me forever to make my first blanket. After all, I’m the type that would get fits of inspiration only to lose interest later on. It was always my dream to make an afghan but I’m always intimidated by it. Still, I’m determined to finish one even though I didn’t have a lot of time. With this desire, I decided that I would spend five minutes crocheting everyday. I had a pattern to follow, using a specific hook and a particular yarn.

I crocheted for five minutes everyday. Usually, I wanted to do it longer but I only give myself five minutes a day. It took me at least two years but I was finally able to finish it. After that, the second one came a lot easier. I’m trying to make another one although this one is more daunting than the first. I decided to make a blanket out of Tunisian crochet in order to learn it.

Creating a blanket is a lot like writing a novel. I had done both although my novel was never published. Each was a herculean task—one that requires a lot of commitment and a lot of perseverance. There are many times when I wanted to stop what I was doing but kept on moving forward that until I had finished my project. That being said, there were creative works that require a lot of stamina. Someone who plans to do either needs to have a plan on how to tackle the project. My plan was to spend a little amount of time everyday crocheting and about an hour a day trying to write a novel.

It takes perseverance and stamina to finish a long term project. However, if you are consistent at making progress, even if it is five minutes a day everyday, eventually you would finish it.


Starting Small

February 9, 2016
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As an artist, our vision often doesn’t match how our creation would come out. Often, our brains come up with visions of grandeur but the rest of our skills had not caught up.

In an episode of Super Girl, Kara’s boss Cat Grant told her that if Super Girl really wants to become a superhero of Superman’s quality, she needs to start small and work her way up. Her boss’ point was that Super Girl is making a lot of mistakes and the city was paying for it. Kara defended her tactics by saying that even Super Man did make his mistakes. Kara’s boss explained that starting small means that someone won’t cause a lot of damage while they improve their superhero skills.

Supergirl 021016 post

Even superheroes have to start small. Check out the show at CBS.

There was wisdom to Cat Grant’s words. After all, it would mean that if you are learning how to use a particular medium, it would mean that you would have a lot less materials to waste if you would start small. However, I myself am a very impatient person. I prefer to make a ton of mistakes, not caring if I waste a lot of materials or not, especially since my preferred medium costs me little. When it comes to yarn, all I needed to do was to unravel and I could reuse it again. When it comes to singing, I could sing all I want and only my entire family would hear if I’m singing out of tune. They’re used to hearing me sing that they don’t even care if I mess up. And writing? It doesn’t even cost anything so I write all I want even if it’s horrible.

Now, for those who had to use a more expensive medium, Cat Grant’s advice is essential. After all, oil paint costs hundreds of dollars. Playing with paint is even more costly on canvas than with strong white paper.

Nobody should bite on more than he or she could chew. For example, if one wants to write a novel, it requires determination and perseverance to finish one. It’s like making a crocheted blanket—a very daunting task. If you or someone you know plan to write a novel, you need to pace yourself and write even when you don’t feel like writing at all. Like blogging, it’s easier to fix words on a page than starting with an empty space.

It is your choice whether you prefer the Cat Grant method or the Superman method. Both would make you a hero but the damage would be very little if you do the Cat Grant method. Meanwhile, the Superman method meant that it would be a very expensive method in terms of time and money while you learn your skills.

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